In the very first verse of this week’s Parsha we read, “V’hayah Ekev Tishmiun,” “And if you listen to these rules and observe them carefully, G-d will maintain faithfully for you the covenant that He made on oath with your fathers.” The word Ekev literally translates to the heel of a foot. Why is this word Ekev used to describe the Mitzvot mentioned here? Rashi, a well-known commentator on Torah, explains that the Torah is reminding us that even the smallest and most insignificant of Mitzvot that we might normally gloss over and pay no attention to, we should not tread upon them with “the heel of our foot,” as they are all equally important.
The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot teaches us, “The consequence of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the consequence of a sin is a sin.” Sure we might think that 613 mitzvot are a lot of commandments and some might seem crazy to us… for example, we don’t know the meaning of why we put our shoes on in a specific order, but the reason is because when we do the simple action of putting on our shoes, we bring G-d closer, for every single part of our day G-d wants to be by our side! So can you imagine… by us just putting on our right shoe then our left and then tying the left and tying the right we are bringing G-d closer to us and enriching our personal relationship with G-d.
Sure you can look at 613 commandments as a burden or you can look at 613 commandments and think “Now I have 613 more opportunities for us to bring G-d closer—every moment of every day,” even while tying our shoes!
G-d never tries to make life hard for us, He never wants us to be miserable. G-d sets all these laws and all these commandments in order for us to grow and become the great people we can be. We learn so much more than just how to tie our shoes, the Torah also teaches us how we can become strong yet empathetic leaders. From a young age we have been taught that G-d is not only within us but around us in everything we do. This is quite a hard concept to understand. If we view G-d as this all mighty powerful being that controls anything and everything in the world and acknowledge there is a small piece of Him in every one of us, even in the most trying times where we are placed in uncontrolled and difficult situations it is important to realize that we have to control what we can in these situations and remember that the little piece of G-d inside of us will be with us every step of the way.
By allowing G-d to be present in our lives we are building a give and take relationship where we are able to acknowledge the beauty and love G-d brings to the world. We are all tiny pieces of this massive puzzle G-d has built called earth and it is our duty to fulfill mitzvot and live a more moral and ethical life. We have to move G-d from a place of fear in our minds to a place of love and acceptance.
COVID-19 is affecting us all and we don’t know how to stop it, but we need to accept it with faith and trust. The Torah tells us, “a righteous person lives with their faith (Emunah).” Faith in G-d forms the core of all the mitzvot. With our faith and continued good deeds, hopefully we can continue to thrive in this age of corona and speedily see a time when this pandemic comes to an end.
Maya Izaki, Shayna Diamond, and Judah Marx
BBYO South Africa
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
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